Sunday, September 11th, 2016


“The Patriots are the best at changing up things and coming up with different plans.” – Tony Dungy on the Patriots adjusting to QB Jimmy Garroppolo

“It’s a statement to your team — we are going to play aggressive and I trust my best player to have the ball in his hands.” – Rodney Harrison on the Raiders’ game-winning two-point conversion

 “He is simply remarkable. As great as he’s been as a runner, he’s maybe even better as a receiver.” – Cris Collinsworth on Cardinals RB David Johnson

STAMFORD, Conn. – Sept. 11, 2016 – Following are highlights from Football Night in America, which aired prior to tonight’s Sunday Night Football matchup between the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals. Bob Costas opened the show live from inside University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., and was joined on site by Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth, NBC Sports commentator Mike Tirico, and SNF sideline reporter Michele Tafoya. Costas told viewers that the roof of the stadium was closed because it was 104 degrees outside, while 67 degrees inside.

Dan Patrick co-hosted Football Night, the most-watched studio show in sports, from NBC Sports Group’s Studio 1 in Stamford, Conn. He was joined by Super Bowl-winning head coach Tony Dungy, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this year; two-time Super Bowl winner Rodney Harrison; and NFL Insider Mike Florio of NBC Sports’ ProFootballTalk. Paul Burmeister reported from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on the Giants-Cowboys game.

Pre-game coverage also included Costas’ interview with Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians and a feature on Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo.

Following are highlights from Football Night In America on NBC:

Patrick to Dungy on National Anthem demonstrations: “As a former coach, what did you think when you saw what was happening in Seattle and other places around the NFL today?”

Dungy: “I really appreciated it. When I coached, the National Anthem was very special to me. We practiced the National Anthem in training camp with our players. We videotaped it. I showed the rookies how it should be done. We wanted it done professionally, with pride. But I would support even those Dolphins players who kneeled. If they came to me and said, ‘Coach, we want to do this because we really think it’s important.’ I would support that.”

Patrick: “When were your beliefs about the flag and National Anthem formed?”

Dungy: “In 1968, I was a 12-year-old kid. Martin Luther King had just gotten shot. Tommie Smith and John Carlos were at the ’68 Olympics with the bowed heads. And there were African-Americans all over the country at that time trying to decide whether we should stand up for the National Anthem.

I talked to my dad about it. My dad was a teacher. He had enlisted in the service to fight in World War II. And he did that even though he knew when he came back he wouldn’t be able to ride in the front of some buses. He wouldn’t be able to teach in white schools. But he fought for our country. And when I asked him what I should do, he said, ‘Do what you think is going to help make the situation better.’”

Patrick: “I know that you have stressed that with  players. If you do this, tell me what you’re doing that is going to make this a positive. Don’t just do it because Colin Kaepernick’s doing it.”

Dungy: “Exactly. And there was a time when I didn’t stand up for the National Anthem. But as I grew as a Christian man, I felt like that wasn’t the right thing to do for me. There was something that I could do to make it better. So when I saw racial injustice that I perceived, I stood for the National Anthem but I bowed my head and I prayed that God would make us a country that really was the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave.’ I thought that’s the way I personally could protest and make the situation better.”

Patrick: “Your dad’s no longer with us. How do you think he’d feel if he saw these protests right now for a man who fought in World War II?”

Dungy: “As a veteran, he would not be offended. He would tell them the same thing he told me. He would say if you really believe what you’re doing is going to make things better, do it because that’s why we fought to make America the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave.’ So people who look differently or even think differently can still have their views expressed.”


Collinsworth on Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo: “I can only imagine what Tom Brady is thinking sitting at home or somewhere watching this game. But for Jimmy Garoppolo, this has been two years in waiting. He really thought a season ago that he was going to be playing in the first start in the four-game suspension and the whole thing. So there has been a lot of anxious moments, but for Jimmy Garoppolo he is ready to go.”

Harrison on Martellus Bennett: “It’s time for him to stop making excuses. He talks about making excuses about the quarterback, the scheme. He’s been on a bunch of different teams. Bill Belichick brought him in because he knows he can be a productive player.”

Dungy: “The Patriots are the best at changing up things and coming up with different plans, and they will have a plan for Jimmy Garoppolo that is totally different then what they did for Tom Brady. They’ll play to his strengths. I expect to see a lot of movement from Garoppolo, but we don’t know what we are going to get.”


Tafoya: “Bruce Arians told us every skill player that touched the ball for Arizona has come back. Something he has never experienced as a coach, so instead of spending the offseason teaching the offense, the time was spent refining it.”

Collinsworth on David Johnson: “He is simply remarkable. As great as he’s been as a runner, he’s maybe even better as a receiver…He’s elusive and he’s also powerful.”

Tirico on what Carson Palmer told him: “It’s been such a good preseason for Johnson, they don’t even want to talk about it. They don’t want to jinx it.”

Collinsworth to Tirico: “That’s the same way we feel about you. It’s been such a great start, we don’t want to jinx it at all.”


Patrick to Dungy on Carson Wentz: “You questioned the Eagles trading away Sam Bradford because you didn’t know if Carson Wentz was ready. Do you alter that now?”

Dungy on Wentz: “I’ve changed my mind now. He played so well today. I thought Doug Pederson did some great things, giving him things that he was comfortable with. He stood in the pocket and made excellent throws.”

Harrison on Wentz: “Unfortunately, he doesn’t play the Cleveland Browns every week.”

Harrison on best young quarterback performance today: “I really like the game plan because when you come in as an offensive coordinator and you give your young quarterback an opportunity to play aggressive, throw the ball down the field, that kind of relaxes the entire offense.”


Dungy on the coverage Odell Beckham, Jr., attracts: “Victor’s (Cruz) going to have a big year, if he stays healthy.”


Harrison on Dak Prescott: “He’s a good looking young quarterback…but until he starts beating people consistently in the passing game, they’re going to continue to load the box.”


Harrison on A.J. Green’s long touchdown over Darrelle Revis: “Everyone looks at this highlight and says Darrelle Revis got burnt, but his safety left him out to dry.”

Dungy: “This is a game that you need to win if you’re going to be a playoff team. You can’t have missed kicks, you can’t have mental errors and leave A.J. Green wide open. They’ve got to get that fixed.”


Harrison: “We always talk about their struggles, but this is a game you can really build confidence from…they are playing against one of the best defenses in the league. I think this is something positive moving forward.”


Harrison: “The guy that really impresses me week in and week out is Doug Baldwin, and people really need to start taking notice. Not only will he come across the middle, but he is making clutch catches for first downs.”


Dungy on the worst loss of the day: “It has got to be the Indianapolis Colts. You get Andrew Luck back, he puts up 35 points. Your defense does not do the job and allows the other team to score at the end and beat you. That’s a tough loss at home.”


Dungy: “I love Jack Del Rio and his confidence in his quarterback there. He wanted Derek Carr to have the ball, and win the game right there.”

Harrison: “It’s a statement to your team — we are going to play aggressive and I trust my best player to have the ball in his hands.”


Dungy: “This was a game that Detroit wouldn’t have won last year. But (Matthew) Stafford took them on his back and won it.”


Dungy: “Finally a defense that can get some stops when they needed it.”


Harrison: “All offseason in Atlanta, everyone’s running up to me and telling me about Kyle Shanahan’s offense and how frustrated they are. They should be frustrated with the defense. Dan Quinn has to do a better job of getting this team ready and prepared to play.”


Patrick on a shot of brothers Rex and Rob Ryan: “Rex and Rob reunited and it feels so good.”


Dungy after video was shown of Robert Griffin III getting a phone call from his mother during a post-game press conference: “That was his mother calling him to tell him to slide.”


Florio: “Earlier today, the NFL issued a statement explaining that it would conduct an investigation to determine that the concussion protocol was properly followed with Cam Newton (on Thursday night). I’m told that the NFL wanted the NFL Players Association to join in on the investigation. The NFLPA has decided not to do that. It will conduct its own investigation. The union believed that the speed with which the NFL said ‘everything is fine’ raised red flags. So each side will do an investigation and if they disagree an arbitrator will decide whether there was a violation or not.”


Arians’ assessment of the Cardinals 2015 season, ending in a loss in the NFC Championship game: “There’s only ever one goal. That was a tremendous season. I think we grew as a football team and an organization. But unless you’re getting the ring and the confetti is falling on you, it’s a bad year.”

Arians on their loss to Carolina in last year’s NFC Championship Game: “I never expected us to play so poorly, or coach so poorly. It wasn’t just Carson (Palmer), it was 53 players and 25 coaches who stunk that night – myself included.”

Arians on if he gathered any intel from first-year Cardinal and former Patriot LB Chandler Jones: “I can honestly say I did not ask him one question. I think the guys have asked him about Jimmy (Garoppolo), ‘How good is Jimmy?’ Carson probably asked him a couple of things. It doesn’t really help you in that 25 seconds you have to call a play.”

Arians on the growth of the Cardinals’ fanbase in Arizona: “I love driving by the schools and when the kids are out in the yards, you see Cardinals jerseys everywhere. Red shirts, flags on cars, license plates – everything has changed dramatically in the last three years.”

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